Near the beginning of my journey into personal development (PD), I randomly crossed paths with a fellow ‘Coelho’ who happened to also be heavily invested in the space. My friendship with Bruno formed in no time, and over the years, while not always in touch, we’ve continued to journey down the long, difficult, confusing and scary path of discovering who we are at our very core.
What I enjoy most about Bruno’s approach to PD is not only that he so aptly calls it The Rabbit Way (which btw I JUST realized is probably because ‘Coelho’ means rabbit in Portugese #Mindblown) but that he always lets his passion, self-awareness and desire to help others, lead him. There have been many times I have felt jealous of how much drive he has to create and contribute, a fact in which he will only find out once reading this post.. Surprise bro! lol
What’s most amazing though is seeing us both reach a new chapter at this time.
One of the biggest struggles in creating a brand in the personal development space is that you’re often forced to show a side of you where “everything is OK and you know what you’re doing.” I still remember hearing a fairly popular motivational speaker say “I used to be $25K in debt, but now I’m here talking to you on stage.” Great, now there’s an audience of admirers that believe the point of life is running from pain. It made me cringe immediately, although at the time I wasn’t sure why. Now that I’ve gone through uncontrollable sadness, and still face days where it shows up, I realized it’s because I am fucking sick of giving you one side of life. In trying to sell you on why I know more or am doing better in my life than you are. In pretending I have answers to any of your problems. Sure the unicorns sometimes dance in a field of dandelions, but just as equally there are times when the unicorns become deathly allergic to these dandelions and it rains so hard they can barely trot through the mud (strange analogy, I know, but hopefully it makes my point).
Because that life is always good for someone who studies PD is so far from the truth, I don’t even think the Millennium Falcon could jump enough lightyears to get to it.
It doesn’t matter who you are – life is a series of highs and lows, goods and bads, Yin and Yang, both sides in a constant dance of learning, growth and understanding the true nature of evolution.
And I want to give a big High5 to Bruno for being bold enough to join me in this journey of vulnerability.
Recently we reconnected and he asked me the following…
one thing that I would love to hear you thoughts is this -> the curse of having an inquisitive mind… a “dreamy” mind…. is that it’s so easy to go into overwhelm. I think that I may struggle with that … SECRETLY of course.
As I read it a little grin came to my face as I saw myself reflected in his very words. Studying PD has made me feel very crazy. It has not only shaken my whole identity on an intellectual level, but every day pushes me to alter that identity in the eyes of those who are so used to how I used to be. It can be quite the mindfuck.
So Bruno, today’s article isn’t to give you answers, because besides there not being any, even if they were they probably wouldn’t be helpful coming from someone who is in the same boat. However, I would like to share perspectives and ideas as this has been something I have reflected a lot on. I hope it helps!
Let’s break down what you’ve mentioned into two parts:
1) The curse of having an inquisitive/dreamy mind (a.k.a overthinking)
2) Going into overwhelm because of it (a.k.a. emotional control struggle)
The curse of having an inquisitive/dreamy mind (a.k.a overthinking)
To set the context, I truly believe we all have inquisitive/dreamy minds; however, the desire and capacity in which we explore it varies from individual to individual.
In the case of having a large desire to explore the mind yet feeling like we have less of a capacity, we could use the analogy of it being like a giant pool (boundless information) but we aren’t very skilled at swimming through it (thinking).
The first thing I believe we need to do is accept that it IS a big swimming pool (which is constantly getting bigger!) that we are exploring and it’s OK to not be very skilled at swimming in it at times. I know for myself I have often called my overthinking a disease, but have done so in a way where I acted like a victim to it. What I’m starting to realize, and what’s starting to help, is realizing that not necessarily knowing how to swim in the pool is not so much a matter of fact, but rather a matter of progress. I can think and sift through information now that 4 years ago made me feel like I was drowning. Sometimes people have even said to me, how are you even capable of thinking in that way and communicating about it so well? – and my reply usually is along the idea that when I was drowning, I just chose to learn to swim.
As we grow Bruno, both of us on a very similar path, I think it’s OK for us to acknowledge that as go down the rabbit hole [like what I did there eh ;)] the pool is inevitably going to get bigger, and relatively we will not be as skilled at swimming in it. What we love to study is very intricate and complex and is designed in a way in which we will never know any of it in an objective manner, but rather subjectively to our patterns and overarching mission. As we dive into it, we need to be aware that our skill in receiving, processing, analyzing, and delivering the information we receive will always be relative to how familiar we are with the information. And since we’re always allowing ourselves to be exposed to new information, there will always be parts of the ‘pool’ that we know how to navigate effortlessly, and other parts where it feels like it was designed to drown us – when in reality it was given to us to learn how to swim in it so we can help others who don’t have the time/energy/passion to figure it out, just as we look to doctors to help us with our health without having to go get our PhD first.
Once you can acknowledge and accept that the ‘pool’ will always be getting bigger, I feel it will be easier to not get upset at the struggle of receiving the information overload and give you more awareness in not trying to rush through it in an attempt to feel like you need to have it all figured out immediately.
A good exercise when you face the bigger pool is to meditate on it and reflect on the question “When I look at this pool, I know it’s teaching me to swim even farther. What unexplored thoughts bring me joy in exploring?”
Going into overwhelm because of it (a.k.a. emotional control struggle)
For this part of the struggle, I believe there’s a couple of things to reflect on.
First, we often label being overwhelmed as ‘bad’. Why? What makes being overwhelmed any worst than feeling completely at ease? Perhaps the sensations in our body might be different, but to say one is better than the other limits the vast emotional spectrum we’ve been given the opportunity to explore in this lifetime. Take minute to reflect on the inaccurate and limiting nature of this label.
Secondly, I believe when we feel overwhelmed, it is a sign that we are starting to encounter unfamiliar waters that he have not yet built the skill to swim. While rationally that may make sense, I totally get that emotionally that may not always resonate. In this case, a great technique I’ve found for myself is going into meditation and instead of trying to immediately change your intellectual perspective in order to relieve yourself of feeling overwhelmed, intentionally go into it. Allow yourself to cry, get angry, feel frustrated, hunch over as though you’ve given up all hope. FEEL the feeling of being overwhelmed and be aware that it’s just a temporary feeling that is giving you something, even if you are unaware of what that is consciously in the moment.
What’s been most amazing about these emotional release meditations is that after I go through them, they seem to almost disappear from my consciousness. I become less attached to the thoughts associated with them since the energy in my body is no longer pent up. In this state, it is much, much, MUCH easier to begin to explore new perspectives that allow you feel less overwhelmed as you move forward. In other words you will have gained clarity in removing the emotional clouds.
To sum up this part, if we use the feeling overwhelmed as a sign of entering new, unfamiliar territory, rather than a label that we are ‘less then’, we will give ourselves a much better chance of learning to swim and navigate those waters much quicker.
I hope what I’ve shared is helpful in some regard. Please bear in mind as I write all this (with inspirational, instrumental music plugged into my ears) it feels more like the content of this article is being channeled through me, rather then from me. If the thoughts I shared here inspired other relevant thoughts and ideas within you, please do share in the comments below.